Google's cardboard is the window to an affordable but immersive VR experience. Cardboard probably started off as an experiment to bring VR to the masses, but soon grew to a full project. At the I/O, Google proudly said that over 1 Million Cardboards were sold, proving its widespread acceptance.
This year's big announcement: an all new Cardboard. The new Cardboard is smaller to carry around but houses enough space to fit in a 6" phone. Also, the magnetic button has finally been replaced by a new button the has capacitive foam that actually touches the phone screen to 'transfer' a touch. Thus the Cardboard is compatible with all major phones -- including iPhones.
Google, realising the need for the Cardboard in schools, showed us "Expedition". Using Expedition, teachers can take their students to 'virtual field trips'. Teachers get a box full of Cardboards and Nexus phones for the students and a Nexus Tablet to control everyone's views. The students can look around 360 degrees and experience the place, while the teacher, using the tablet, will control what the students watch. The teacher can also point out at specific places for the students to see and learn. Google has already implemented this in some schools, and the response has been amazing, both from the teachers as well as students. (Any teachers reading this, please take note. We students love virtual field trips).
Google solved the implementation part of VR with the Cardboard. But what about making the content? Google has an answer for that too.
Google introduced "Jump" to help people capture and produce 360 degree content. There are 3 parts to it: capturing footage, assembling the content and playing it back. Google gave GoPro the first job; GoPro showed us a 16 camera ring that would make capturing in 360 degree easy. The second job of assembling the content is done by Google’s servers- everything from aligning pictures, uniformly re-colouring them and then removing the tiny misplacements to from a perfect image that has depth and clarity. This takes a ton of processor, so Google will, as required, point to more servers for larger jobs. Finally, reproducing the video on a phone: YouTube. Youtube will now hold VR footage as well, hence competing the Cardboard experience.
Google covered all aspects of the Cardboard at this year’s I/O. Cardboard is now officially available for iOS as well, making for another reasonable update. But we didn’t see any big VR update - no real VR headset, no real games to play on VR, nothing very technologically advanced. Still, Google is Google, and we can’t say what’s really the next big thing from them.